RSP Boiler Room: RB Brandon Ross And Maintaining a Down-Hill Mentality

Gap runners perform better on fill-in the blank than multiple choice. Ross demonstrates why he’s a better fit for gap plays at this stage of his career.

Watch Brandon Ross run it up the middle. Watch it again. See him taking on defenders? See him on the next play attacking the crease and not caring what he encounters on his straight path for yardage?

This is the Brandon Ross I like to see. This is the Brandon Ross who is maximizing his strengths as a runner.

When getting downhill is his ultimate goal, Ross can do positive things.  This cornerback is coming from the far side of the field in pursuit. It may not be blazing speed, but Ross is fast enough to pad his separation within the span of 65 yards. It’s unlikely he’ll test “slow” in workouts.

Note the dip of the outside shoulder to set up the tight end’s pull to No.3. That’s a subtle piece of running that helps his teammates do their job.

In the NFL, one of the things he must remember is that everything he does with the ball in his hands comes with the goal of getting downhill.

When he has a less rigid structure to operate and freedom to create he loses this perspective. Give him one gap or a tight crease and he attacks. Give him multiple choices and he forgets his primary job.

Here’s a three-yard gain that should have been at least run of 4-6 yards. Look again. Ross has a one-on-one with a linebacker three yards from the line of scrimmage, but instead of taking a more aggressive approach towards the linebacker, he immediately veers to the right and the defender wraps Ross for a minimal gain.

A running back should savor these one-on-ones and be the aggressor. Attacking downhill a few more steps gives the runner more options and control of his destiny. A downhill approach either forces  the defender to commit to an angle or it gives Ross’ opponent less time to react to a move.

Ross declares his angle so early that the defender has an easy diagnosis and reaction. Ross gives up his plan two yards behind the line of scrimmage. This won’t do. Even if he lacks the agility to set up the linebacker, Ross has the burst and pad level to attack this defender and gain at least 1-3 yards more than he did with the veer inside.

Here’s a play where Ross has less room to create and as a result, he attacks the defender down hill  he drops the pads, keeps his feet moving and gains six yards running through a reach to his inside leg and pushing the linebacker downfield.

That’s his ticket to lasting beyond training camp. Thanks for watching. For more RSP Boiler Room episodes check out my YouTube Channel the RSP Film Room and subscribe to my blog at

For analysis of skill players in this year’s draft class, download the 2016 Rookie Scouting Portfolio – early-bird purchase for April 1 download available now. Better yet, if you’re a fantasy owner the Post-Draft Add-on comes with the 2012 – 2015 RSPs at no additional charge. Best, yet, 10 percent of every sale is donated to Darkness to Light to combat sexual abuse. You can purchase past editions of the Rookie Scouting Portfolio for just $9.95 apiec

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